Rendlesham: Spitfire pilot rejects claims that Bentwaters could become a civil airport

Carolyn Grace talking to pupils from Rendlesham Primary School during a trip to the airfield at Bentwaters to see the Grace Spitfire. Carolyn Grace talking to pupils from Rendlesham Primary School during a trip to the airfield at Bentwaters to see the Grace Spitfire.

Thursday, May 22, 2014
2:45 PM

A female Spitfire pilot has defended flying at a former USAF air base amid concerns that the number of aircraft using the site could grow dramatically.

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Carolyn Grace said the peace and tranquillity of the county’s coast and heath’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was important to her family but any aircraft could fly over it – and many pilots would not even know there was an AONB below.

She also rejected suggestions that moves were afoot to turn Bentwaters into a civil airport.

Air Leasing Ltd’s flying of the Spitfire and eight heritage planes from the site near Rendlesham has come under scrutiny because the site’s owners have submitted a new blueprint to Suffolk Coastal for its future use, and some residents fear it could mean more flying from the site.

Mrs Grace learned to fly the Spitfire ML407 in 1988 after the death of her husband Nick, who had restored the Second World War fighter. Her son Richard is also now rebuilding and maintaining the planes.

She said: “The current misinformation that a civil airport is inevitable if this planning application is approved is so utterly incorrect it is hard to know where to begin to explain.

“For example, a civil airport requires funding in the billions of pounds just to set up let alone operate and heritage aircraft do not fly into civil airports, so this would actually end the purpose of Air Leasing being at Bentwaters at all.”

Every effort had been made to stop aerobatic practising by others over the area and the AONB was of the “utmost importance” to the family and company.

Mrs Grace said: “We take great care to fly with full consideration to the AONB and tranquillity.

“The majority or our flying takes our aircraft away to other parts of the UK and Europe, it is not continually in the local area.

“What has to be understood is that there is quite extensive military activity in the area plus there are many other farm strips and small airfields that will fly nearby – it is important to realise the aircraft the public see or hear may not be ours and therefore may not be as aware as we are about the AONB or tranquillity of the area.

“I am afraid to say that the AONB is not marked as a consideration on air navigation maps so aviators from outside of the local area would be unaware of this particular designation.”

6 comments

  • keep flying Carolyn the vast majority love to see and hear this symbol of our freedom,people stop what they are doing to watch this beautiful aircraft being put through its aerobatics and thank you

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    saxon

    Wednesday, May 28, 2014

  • What lady thinks aeroplanes don't make a noise what world is she in.

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    pandy

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Tamara, If you can hear the roar of airlines going into Stansted that plane is not going to Stansted - it's crashing. Planes into or coming from Stansted are far to high over Bentwaters to be the cause of an "incessant roar"

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    ianabarker

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Once again ignorance has caused the region to miss a gilt edged opportunity, an airport would bring so much to the region. Even with a runway in place they fail to see. They will accept far noisier fighter jets to take off and bomb other humans, but not allow visitors to land and bring revenue.

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    Lee Davies

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • I love hearing and seeing her spitfire flying, for me it's part of summer. The noise is insignificant compared to the incessant roar of airliners heading in to Stanstead anyway.

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    Tamara Knight

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • An ideal opportunity was missed when the Americans left Bentwaters. It should have been turned into an international airport then to rival Norwich.

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    G Rumpy

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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